How did you decide what crops to grow this year?

Posted: June 8, 2022

Answer: We plant corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, and sweet corn each year, rotating the location and acreage of crops. We use a portion of the corn, hay and wheat for cattle feed, and wheat straw for cattle bedding.

We typically plant the same five crops each year because we have a use for each one of them. We may change up the amounts of each one slightly depending on the input cost and the market prices but typically we plant about 2,000 acres of corn, 900 acres of soybeans, 100 acres of wheat, 40 acres of hay, and 1 acre of sweet corn each year.

Field Corn – The field corn, which is our largest crop by far, gets planted in April/May, grows until September/October, and then is harvested. A large portion of it gets sold to a local hog producer to feed their hogs. The rest of it gets stored in our grain bins to use year-round in our feed rations for our feedlot cattle.

Soybeans – The soybeans get planted and harvested around the same schedule as the corn. We store them in our grain bins and sell to the market throughout the year when they are bringing a good market price.

Wheat – The wheat crop is planted around the end of September, after the soybean crop is harvested and is planted in that same field. The wheat grows through the fall, goes dormant in the winter, and then continues to grow when the weather turns mild. We harvest the wheat around mid-July and sell it to the market. Then for us it is important to bale the remaining wheat straw into large straw bales that we store all year and use as needed for bedding for our cattle throughout the year and especially during the cold winter months. We also use the straw in our cattle feed ration.

Hay – Our hay crop is a crop that grows back annually and usually gets the first cutting around the time we are done planting the corn and soybeans, so around Memorial Day weekend. We usually get four cuttings from the hay to bale into both large round bales and also small square bales. We wait about one month after baling for the hay to grow again to be cut and baled once again. We store these bales and use them to feed our cow-calf herd for the entire year.

Sweet Corn – And lastly, we have our single acre of sweet corn that we plant each year. We use this crop for our personal consumption and at our small roadside stand for sale at the end of July, beginning of August. We plant half of that crop right in the very beginning of planting season. Then we plant all of the field corn and soybeans, and then plant the second half of the sweet corn crop at the very end. We do it this way for a couple of reasons. If the first crop doesn’t turn out due to the weather, you still have a chance with the second crop or vice versa. The other reason is to extend the sweet corn eating season, as the best way to eat it is fresh off the cob. So once the 1st crop is gone, the 2nd crop is ready to go!
We stay busy with all these crops throughout the year as well as our livestock, and look forward to what each new season brings.